Modeling and Testing Of Water-Coupled Microchannel Gas Coolers for Natural Refrigerant Heat Pumps
Fronk, Brian Matthew
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An experimental and analytical investigation on a water-coupled microchannel gas cooler was conducted in this study. With a relatively low critical temperature (31.1°C/89.9°F) and pressure (73.7 bar/1070 psi), CO2 is a supercritical fluid on the high side of a vapor compression cycle under warmer ambient conditions. This results in a non-isothermal heat rejection through the component known as the gas cooler. The large temperature glide in the heating of tap water matches well with the supercritical temperature glide of carbon dioxide. Unlike in a condensation process, here the non isothermal heat rejection can be used to advantage in a counterflow gas cooler, in which the water outlet temperature can rise to the desired high value. This minimizes temperature pinch and keeps gas cooler size economical. The focus of this thesis was to develop and experimentally validate a heat transfer model for a water-coupled microchannel gas cooler. The heat exchanger was tested in a small capacity experimental heat pump system. The heat pump system was designed to simulate conditions for heating domestic tap water to a usable temperature. A matrix of test points varying refrigerant inlet temperature, refrigerant mass flow rate, water inlet temperature and water volumetric flow rate were used to characterize the performance of the heat exchanger and validate the model.